4 Ways to be a Top-Notch Student Leader

During holiday break, I reflected on what I’ve learned during my first term as the University of Oregon PRSSA president. Serving as a leader is never an easy job; however, I have learned several significant lessons that I’d like to share.

Be positive

The UO PRSSA executive board addresses the Chapter. Photo courtesy of Callie Gisler.

When you are a leader, the people within your organization may mirror your attitude. This means that if you are pessimistic and difficult to work with, your members may also be difficult to work with. If you are positive and easy to work with, however, your members may reflect that positivity in their work and their attitudes. You are more likely to find success in your PRSSA ventures when members are happy and hard-working.

Praise in public, critique in private

If someone within your Chapter does awesome work, acknowledge it publicly. It feels good to be recognized among peers and, hopefully, that recognition will encourage that person as well as other members to continue doing awesome work.

If someone in your Chapter isn’t completing the work that he or she was assigned, fight the urge to call them out publicly for their shortcomings. Instead, speak one on one with the person and critique their work in private. This can help you to maintain a good relationship with that individual while still correcting the problem.

Be vulnerable

By definition, vulnerable means to be open to criticism or moral attack, and to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. Most people shy away from vulnerability because our innate sense of self-protection tries to avoid scrutiny.

However, by being vulnerable as a leader within your PRSSA Chapter, you can foster an atmosphere of collaboration and will allow those around you to accept your shortcomings. You don’t have all the answers; don’t pretend like you do just for the sake of being in charge. To put vulnerability into practice as a leader, recognize and admit your mistakes, and be open to accepting help and input from others.

Take responsibility

On a similar note, taking responsibility as a leader means you must accept fault for your mistakes, as well as the mistakes of the PRSSA members that you are leading. Taking responsibility can be hard, but doing so will reflect strong leadership skills and earn the respect of those around you.

Although as a leader I am not always perfectly aligned with each of these sentiments, I strive to do so each day. As we move into the upcoming term, I encourage PRSSA Chapter leaders to keep these lessons in mind.

If you are looking for some inspiration to continue leading your Chapter, remember this quote:

 “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

– Harvey Firestone.

How are you a top-notch leader?

This is a guest post by Ellie Boggs, a public relations student at the University of Oregon (UO). She is the president of the UO PRSSA Chapter and hopes to work in government affairs after graduation. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellieboggs.

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